Rome Italy April 24- May 2, 2006

I decided to take a break from the dog show exhibiting and judging and venture without dogs to Rome, Italy to visit with good friends Pasquali Romanelli and Rosana Corsini of Casa di Corsini Shih Tzu and for some sightseeing of the beautiful city. Richard would stay home and Jenny McClintock, our handler, friend and fellow breeder would accompany me. This was Jenny's first visit overseas and she too was looking forward to the fun, rest and relaxation. It was my fifth visit to Italy and I was still excited and fascinated about the prospects of new found sights and revisiting the old.

The 8 hour overnight flight was long and we arrived in Rome where we were greeted by Rosana at the airport and drove the 45 minute ride to 'Casa di Corsini' located in the countryside south of Rome in the town of Valmontone. We spent the rest of the day relaxing, looking at puppies and enjoying our hosts company and hospitality.

The next day we took the Metro into the downtown core and visited the Vatican. Rome was bustling with activity and tourists, more so than on any of my previous visits as we were here on a long weekend celebration. The Pope was saying mass in St Peter's Square and the throngs of people were everywhere. We decided to go to the Vatican museum. Jenny loved the Gallery Of Animals, The Tapestry Room and Sistine Chapel. One could spend days visiting each and every exhibit hall in this expansive museum. Unfortunately we did the 1 day tour and looked forward to revisiting in the future. Next stop was 'Piazza de Spagna', made famous by the movie the 'Talented Mr. Ripley', the long street of designer stores (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bvglari, Trussardi, Dior and all) on our way to the "Trevi Fountain" of Jenny's favorite spots in Rome. We returned to Casa de Corsini for a quiet dinner and retired to bed early after an exhausting but exciting day of sightseeing.

The next day we were up early and boarded the train from Valmontone to the main terminal in the center of the city. We decided to gain an overview of the whole city core by taking a 'double decker' bus tour with accompanying english running commentary of all the magnificent sites. We were able to move around the city all day on this 'on an off' service. Our first stop was the 'Colosseum' which was closed on this day so we explored the adjacent "Roman Ruins' sensing the eerie historical flash backs of the long gone era. Next it was over to the 'War Memorial', Capital Square and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was then on to St Peter's Basilica and both of us were awestruck by the scale and opulence of the magnificent statues and marble adornments. We had a quaint lunch in street side cafe topped off with an indulgence of famous Italian 'Gelato'. We boarded the train back to 'Casa de Corsini' and were met at the station by Pucci and Marisa Mondadori who had driven the 5 hour trip from Ravenna to visit, show us some puppies and have a 'Champagne and desert' affair as we exchanged old and new stories.

The next morning Pasquali was able to tour with us and we visited the nearby mountain towns of Artena and Palestrina. It was interesting to stroll and climb the narrow cobblestone streets to view the magnificent panoramic vistas of the valley below. One of the highlights was the visit to Castle San Pietro and it's additional majestic views. In the evening we went to Pasquali and Rosana's favorite 'Friday Night Haunt' the Vigilo Pizzeria for authentic Italian pizza followed by an evening of drinking and revelry including to our surprise Pasquali entertaining us with several karaoke songs.

The next day Jenny & I were back on the train to Rome to once again enjoy the plethora of sights and history available to us. We did the 'bus thing' again and were able to stop at several sights we had missed the previous days. These included the Basilica De Santa Maria Maggiore, Basilica De San Giovanni de la Terno, The Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the The Colosseum, the magnificent amphitheater and symbol of Rome. In the evening we were off to good friend and fellow judge, Valerio's home for an enjoyable 5 course dinner featuring antipasto, tortellini, artichokes, fish and beef complimented with a fine selection of Italian wine..

We spent the next day relaxing and eventually off for some power shopping at the local outlet mall. The following day we attended a small all breed show south of Rome on the coast overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Pasquali won the breed with Am Can Ch Wafer's Madison Avenue.

Our trip to Rome was memorable and we thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality extended to us by Pasquali and Rosana as well as the opportunity to visit the historic city of Rome. We looked forward to a return visit.